Building a better world

In Edinburgh! I was, once again, in Edinburgh. Whenever I am in that city, there’s something great happening. It might be my fortieth birthday (yes, ohmy, that’s two years ago!) or it is Pedal on Parliament, or I am taking visiting friends sight-seeing or going to the German Consulate, or just a catchup with tweepz, or…

This time round it was the Women’s Cycle Forum, part of Edfoc.

I had been invited by the organisers extraordinaire (in alphabetical order)

Suzanne Forup aka @backonmybike

Sally Hinchcliffe aka @sallyhinch

to facilitate a discussion table. But first things first… we started by getting some inspirational and practical advice from the most excellent campaigners of (in order of appearance)

NoMorePage3 – Ceris Aston aka @insocrates

PlayingOut! – Carol Botten aka @Carol_VONNE

Then the roundtable disucssions. My chosen topic was Urban Design – Making and Breaking. With a full table, ten of us or so, we delved into this vast topic (which I can probably best describe, technically, by recycling the summary from York Women’s Conference here).

Unsurprisingly, there was not much facilitation effort needed at all. Town planners, engineers, new and older cycling peeps, we chatted about space, comfort, convenience and our needs. The current transport system is not sufficiently supportive for inclusive cycling, and we agreed, of course, that much change had to happen. There are little things we all can do (if you haven’t already done them)…

  • contact the council, the local transport authority
  • contact them about one specific problem that you think may be able to be (easily) solved or fixed (a traffic light setting, a missing link on an otherwise acceptable cycle route, a cycle lane that is too narrow…)
  • do not give up – there are many institutional barriers and hoops to jump through or limbo-dance under
  • make it known to the wider world that you have identified a problem spot, and told the council (cyclescape, blog about it, etc)
  • contact experts like CEoGB who are a fantastic group of urbanists chatting anything from infrastructure, kerbs and planning, and cycle strategy
  • don’t give up – change won’t come overnight, be realistic
  • start / join a local campaign, get involved
  • find like-minded folks, and work with others to share the burden, keep you sanity and fun levels high, and having a louder voice
  • don’t give up

The organisers had some output in mind for us. We ended on a bingo! So, now you, too, can play Build a Better World Bingo here is its very own bingo card with its own hashtag  #babwbingo.

Don’t give up! But who could, with women campaigners like that! Next week? Well, it’s CEoGB AGM in Leicester.

Credit SuzanneForup WCF2015

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